Inspiration is abundant throughout Southern Iceland. Seriously, every five minutes you’re going to be afflicted with the urge to pull your car over and take a photograph or pick your jaw off the floor! Therefore, one of the ideal ways to experience it firsthand is hiking through the landscapes. So today our Vik Expeditions team would love to share with you some of the Best South Iceland hikes!
South Iceland Hiking
Overall, hiking in South Iceland is endless! Good news too is that you can find hikes that are fantastic for all skill levels and all timeframes. After all, most people visiting Iceland for the first time, do not want to spend hours on trails hiking. Likely because you are limited on time and you want to do and see more. Therefore, there is no shame in picking and choosing according to your favorite landscape types or specific hike time too. So bring on the top 12 best South Iceland hikes!
# 1: Lake Kleifarvatn
Less than a 45 minute drive from the international Keflavík Airport (KEF), is a gorgeous fresh water lake named Lake Kleifarvatn. Pictureseque truly, with rock formations, crazy colored cliffs, coves, caves, black sands and even hot springs nearby. Furthermore, the lake is over 3 square miles and over 300 feet deep! To hike Lake Kleifarvatn, it is best you head to the formal car park and then decide what direction you want to hike depending on the time of day you’re there
#2: Hjörleifshöfði (Viking Grave Hike)
Did you know one of the founding settlers is buried on top of a mountain in Southern Iceland? Hjörleifr Hróðmarsson (the brother in law of Ingólfr Arnarson)settled in the 9th century on top of a beautiful mountain in the South named, Hjörleifshöfði. At the time, the mountain was actually an island so he built his farm on top of the mountain. However, he was murdered and was buried in a traditional Viking grave on top. Fair to say this is not only one of Vik’s best hikes but for sure one of the best South Iceland hikes!
But believe it or not, but you can hike to the top to experience this bit of Icelandic history… In fact, the mountain is only 15 minutes from our town of Vik! Some even believe this is one of the best things to do in Vik!
Furthermore, use this Google Map to get there and begin your 30-45 minute trek up the mountain to discover it. You’ll see the grave and remains of the old farmstead, so leave time to hike around to witness that and the 360 degree views. Although it is open year round, during the winter months snow levels can require a super jeep.
#3: Krýsuvíkurbjarg Sea Cliffs
If you find sea cliffs exciting, one of the best in Iceland and certainly in the South is Krýsuvíkurbjarg. Some locals call these the “golden sea cliffs” and they do not disappoint! These intriguing cliffs can be found within the Reykjanes Peninsula which is also near to the KEF Airport.
However, it is best to venture here with a 4×4 with higher clearance because the road is most times very rutted. Once you arrive via this Google Map, then you can choose where and how long you hike (10 minutes to 4 hours). Just be mindful by the cliff edges, be safe!
#4: Hiking to Iceand’s Active Volcano
Topping the list of most travelers to Iceland in 2021 is likely the erupting volcano! And as of this post, it was still going strong month #4! After all who doesn’t want to see a volcano eruption in real time? Plus it’s so close to the airport too! Next, if you’re ready to make the hike to Geldingadalur, feel free to use our Volcano hiking guide.
Curious to experience a real life Narnia while on your Iceland self-drive adventure? A magical place that feels like you’ve literally stepped into a fairytale? Allow us to introduce you to Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur Valley which is on the cusp of the Icelandic highlands. Ideally rent a 4×4 with higher clearance to wander there.
Choose how long you hike around this enchanted valley from 10 minutes down the steps or more crossing the rivers to get to the other waterfalls! Keep his Google map link to the Gjáin parking lot handy if you wish to visit. Truly one of the best South Iceland hikes, don’t miss it!
#6: Háifoss Waterfall
Nearby to Gjáin (like a 15-30 minute drive depending on your vehicle type) is another short but glorious hike to check out to Háifoss Waterfall. Also know you can hike from the previous waterfall here too if you’re looking for a longer hike (2-3 hours round trip).
Meanwhile, if you’re ready for a tiny challenge the hike from the top of Háifoss Waterfall down into the canyon is pretty cool if you have a spare 20-45 minutes one way to adventure. To illustrate, the view is pretty cool both ways as you’ll see below. Likely making the waterfall one of the best South Iceland hikes to check out! Get yourself to the Háifoss parking lot by following this Google Map.
#7: Stakkholtsgjá Canyon
Deep into Thórsmörk after many river crossings, you’ll find a gem called Stakkholtsgjá. Please be aware crossing rivers can be tricky when driving in the Icelandic Highlands. Therefore, if you have a 4×4 and want to make an attempt to get here, go with caution and knowledge.
But once there, you´ll marvel at the colors and excitement of the place. Firstly, you´ll begin by leaving your car at the “parking lot” which is basically a picnic table area. Secondly, hike back beginning on the right hand side of the canyon, you´ll see an unmarked trail that people have clearly taken. Thirdly, about 5-10 minutes into your hike you’ll see a small cave on the left side.
If you’re not afraid of getting wet, cross the river by foot and check it out, worth a look. Fourthly, traverse back and keep heading back through the canyon on the right side until there is a split of the canyon. Keep to the left and cross 3-5 more rivers by foot and you’ll find the narrow canyon where the Stakkholtsgjá waterfall is.
Enjoy it and pat yourself on the back for completing one of the best South Iceland hikes! Fun Fact: You may remember this location as one of GOT Iceland filming locations! Side note, if wanting to experience this place, it is best done in a super jeep with a guide if you’re unfamiliar with how the rivers flow.
#8: Vestrahorn (Mirror Mountain)
If you’re a seeker of vivid and crazy shaped mountains, then Vestrahorn awaits you! Seriously, one of the best South Iceland hikes is this beautiful mountain in Stokksnes. Actually many call it a “photographers paradise.” Although there is an admission fee, it is well worth the cost. Why? Because you get access to the mountains to hike around and also to the Viking Village (which is actually a future movie set)! You’ll find getting to Vestrahorn is easy as it is just past the turn off for the village of Höfn. Note, this is a wonderful year round location to explore.
#9: Múlagljúfur Canyon
Next, if you love recreating epic Instagram shots, then seeing Múlagljúfur (translation: “Mules Canyon”) in person will not disappoint! Be on the lookout for this special place before you find your way to the Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoons.
In fact, check Google before you go! Hiking to Múlagljúfur is easy on a summer day, as you’ll basically follow the well treaded path back 25-45 minutes one way until the canyon unveils itself to you. Did you know you can do canyoneering at Múlagljúfur too? What a freaking badass perspective you’ll have after you hike it! Contact us for more information on elevating your adventure…
#10: Reynisfjall Mountain
Likely from our previous blog post on Reynisdrangar (basalt stacks in Vik) you learned everything you needed to know. But did you know you can hike to the top to see the basalt stacks from a whole other perspective? The hike to Reynisfjall begins just outside of the town of Vik and will take you about 2-3 hours round trip to do the ~4 mile loop at 1,100 feet.
So if you have a spare afternoon in Vik and it’s clear, don’t miss one of the best South Iceland hikes! From the top on a clear day, the 360 degree views are insane… For instance, you’ll see the basalt stacks from a unique angle, Dyrholaey, and 2 glacier outlooks in the distance. And if you’re a bird watching lover, this can be an ideal place to watch puffins and other birds!
Right before the tiny town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Fjaðrárgljúfur (translation: Feather Canyon) is begging you to explore it! This was a place that was a hidden gem until Justin Bieber and his Bieblivers found their way here. Sadly the area is full of ropes and barriers trying hard to protect toe flora and fauna growing. But taking this 2 mile trail out and back is still refreshing and beautiful! Totally work a stop to stretch your legs on a light hike. Follow this Google Map to find your way there.
#12: Reykjadalur Hot Spring River
Fancy a dip in one of Iceland’s hot spring rivers? Allow us to introduce you to Reykjadalur. Additionally, just slightly outside of the town of Hveragerði you’ll find the parking lot to this refreshing 4+ mile loop hike. The hike is well marked and depending on snow levels, people do this walk year round. Just be careful as there have previously been accidents with people getting off the trail and getting burned (literally).
Anticipate a 4 mile round trip and over 1,100 feet gain in elevation. But once there, you can RELAX! To illustrate, there is a small fence looking area where you can change (it’s still out in the open so try to wear your bathing suit underneath). Then pick your favorite spot in the river! Hope you find your way to Reykjadalur hot springs, as many locals deem this one of the best South Iceland hikes!
Want More Best Hikes in South Iceland?
In conclusion, we have barely shared the tip of the best South Iceland hikes. For example, if you crave multi day hikes an expedition would be an adventurous route for you to go. Lastly for more information on more offbeat hikes best done with a local guide feel free to contact us!
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